In a first for the Sydney University Rugby Club, a full premiership round was played at the Bowral Rugby Club fields last Saturday against Eastern Suburbs.
The hour and a half trip down the M5 motorway through areas more acclaimed for their scrap metal yards, saw Sydneysiders emerge from the urban jungle into an oasis of photinia lined hedges and poplars of the southern highlands hamlet of Bowral.
1st Grade saw an early penalty providing University the momentum to press Easts inside their quarter for an extended period. The monopoly of possession proved fruitful when a series of five metre scrums saw the Students pack shunt and cause the referee to award a penalty try for repeated scrum infringements by the Easts pack.
The 10-0 lead was short lived as Easts exploited loose marking off a ruck for their winger Anderson to score a converted try. Their five eighth Hudson potted another penalty to see the half time score level at 10-10.
There was a bumper crowd of locals, nearby college students and outsiders lining the sidelines of the Bowral club fields. Marquees were dotting the grassy fringes and the smell of a barbecue was in the air to feed the hungry. Only a catastrophic calamity likened to Zayn Malik this week leaving One Direction could spoil such a gem of a day.
The second half started strongly for the Students when fullback Henry Clunies-Ross burst into the line. Palming off a defender Clunies-Ross drew the defence and passed back inside for his supporting winger with the blue steel looks Dane McCarthy to score under the posts for a converted try. The score was 17-10 and one would think that University were now starting to play a more expansive style of rugby.
However this thought was dismantled with lapses in concentration and discipline which allowed Easts back into the game. A shallow kick off was not handled well by University and Easts were able to regather and bump their way into the corner for a try. Another try by Easts saw them momentarily ahead 20-17 but a penalty kicked by second rower Byron Hodge equalled scores.
University later constructed the best try for the day. Through sets of hands young burly prop Tom Robertson smashed his way through the defence. Robertson about to embark on medical studies visualised he was a St Vincent’s surgeon by his delicate off load to supports who channelled the ball to score out wide. Scores were 25-20 in favour of University but again mistakes and indiscretions handed the game back to Easts. Successive penalties gave Easts Hudson the opportunity to progress to 26-25 with time running out.
When University attempted to play catch up dropped passes put a stop to their rallying. The final score of 26-25 was frustrating. Despite the disappointment University can take stock that flaws can be rectified at this stage of the season.
A great day was had down in Bowral and the University club extends their appreciation to the hard working rugby folk of the Bowral Rugby Club for their hospitality. Next Saturday University will be up against Gordon at Chatswood Oval.